Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tried and True - Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of tomato soup is comfort food. The recipe in this post is for plain old comfortable cream of tomato soup. Not tomato bisque (they call it bisque when they want to charge more) or some other fancy concoction.  Just plain old tomato soup. The kind you eat with a grilled cheese sandwich. The kind you can serve to a child. The kind that you crumble a few crackers into. The kind that shines when you make it with home grown and vine ripened canned or frozen or fresh tomatoes.

I know some of you are contemplating canning tomatoes this year. I hope you are able to take on that challenge, if for no other reason than you will be able to enjoy cream of tomato soup next winter with the fruits of your labor. Next week we will have a kind of tomato celebration here on the blog. I will be talking about canning - tomatoes in particular. But if canning isn't going to happen for you this year - let me suggest the all-time easiest way to preserve some tomatoes.  And after that - a recipe for cream of tomato soup.

1. Obtain desired quantity of ripe flavorful tomatoes (CSA members can order tomatoes for preservation from Featherstone Farm "Putting Up Group" - 507-864-2400. See the last e-newsletter for an online order form. Monday afternoon is deadline for this coming week.)

2. Wash tomatoes. Cut into halves or quarters. Arrange tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet (I recommend some wax or parchment paper on the sheet to avoid sticking).

3. Place sheet in freezer - no need to cover - until tomatoes are frozen and solid.

4. Bag up frozen tomatoes in freezer bags. Repeat until tomatoes are used up.

5. When it is time to cook with the tomatoes, the skins will slip right off when they thaw. You can chop or puree them when they are partially thawed. Great for tomato soup or sauces

Here is a great way to use some of your canned or frozen tomatoes.

Presentation matters.  Soup in pottery bowl, with wooden spoon
Cream of Tomato Soup – Serves four (Or make a double recipe and freeze some)

3 T butter or olive oil or a combination
3 T flour
2 t. finely minced fresh garlic or 3 T. finely chopped onion or shallots
1 cup milk (skim, lowfat or whole), heated but not boiled
1/2 t salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1 t. sugar - white or brown
1 quart home canned tomatoes


1 quart chopped fresh tomatoes, cooked for about 10 minutes and pureed (I use a food mill - you can do that with hot tomatoes - and it will separate out the skins and seeds.  If you are going to use a blender or food processor, skin tomatoes first by blanching in boiling water.)


1 quart skinned frozen tomatoes, thawed, finely chopped or pureed and cooked 5-10 minutes


1 quart (32 oz.) good quality commercially canned whole or crushed tomatoes

Saute onion or garlic in butter or oil until soft – about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat another 3-5 minutes.  Whisk in hot milk until mixture is smooth. Add tomatoes.  Season to taste, heat gently for a few minutes and serve. Optional – add a spoonful of pesto or 1/2 cup of chopped cooked spinach or chard or a spoonful or two of chopped fresh herbs. Tarragon would be nice.

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